Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's A Sunday Kinda Quiche

Planning ahead, I made this quiche tonight to slice up and have for lunch next week.
This one is layered with spinach, sauteed portobello mushrooms and bacon. I used a combination of swiss and munster cheese. 

6 eggs 1.5 cups of whipping cream, i small onion, nutmeg, salt and pepper (all in a blender set to liquify to pulverize the 
onion and let it's flavor permeate the whole pie.)

The whole house smells divine! It's for my lunches next week...with some to freeze for later consumption. I love cooking more than eating to be honest.

Roméo's First Anniversary in the United States

This one is Roméo's special day, so I'll let him tell of it.

Today is my Anniversary! I'm not exactly sure what that is, but it means my guy and I are celebrating and I really am happy about that!

This morning instead of going for a walk in the park we got into the truck and went to this special park called The National Arboretum.
I like riding in the truck long as it's not too far.
It's very big!

I was so excited that I did not hold still very well...
We climbed a mountain together called the Azalea Forest or Mount Hamilton or something like that. Other people were there, too and some had dogs, and I got lots of compliments. One woman said to my guy when we passed her while she was taking photos, "My dog would never be that well behaved." And an older man said to the members of his family, "Look. That dog is really enjoying himself." I guess he didn't know my name is Roméo, but he was correct--I was enjoying myself. 

 At the very top you could see the U.S. Capitol building and my guy thought that was very special.

When we came down off of the "mountain," we walked around a big area with trees from all 50 states. We didn't see all of them, but we did see Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma and D.C.'s trees. By that time in our visit, I didn't have a single drop of pee left inside me--what a waste!

After our hike we went to the Big Bad Woof. I've been there a couple of times before. It's a store for dogs! It's were I went to get my purple harness. Today we were going to get me some Nepalese Yak Cheese chews, but the woman said they were all out and the distributor was having trouble getting more. Oh, no! My guy was obviously disappointed. And then the woman gave me two free turkey treats! Then my guy decided I should try some new things. SO we got a bag of organic chicken jerky, a bag of dehydrated duck's feet and a nice big marrow beef bone! Wow! I love anniversaries.
But they do you make you very tired, too.

Sunday Breakfast

 A good breakfast for a busy day ahead.
My angel, Roméo, and I have something to celebrate!

Off To The Races!

You all know I'm a teacher by vocation, and a political junky by moral choice. But did you know that it's an election year? Well, if you don't you will, and the story at this point is all about the Senate of the United States.

With 100 members (two for each state) who serve 6 year terms, every two years 1/3 of them are up for re-election. They hold seats assigned to "classes," as in members of Class I, Class II, and Class III. The classes all have 33 members and class III has one more with 34. Ergo, 33 + 33 + 34 = 100.

In 2014, it's the members of Class II who will be up for election/re-election. Class II currently has 20 members who are Democrats and 13 members who are Republicans.

Additionally, in any normal election cycle, seats of Senators from other classes can be added to the roster when those seats become empty in the course of their terms due to Resignation, early Retirement, or Death. This class with 33 election seats has an example of each and so 3 additional seats in Hawaii (Senator Daniel Inouye's death), Oklahoma (Senator Tom Colburn's early retirement) and South Carolina (Senator Jim DeMint's resignation). This means that BOTH seats in South Carolina and Oklahoma are up for election. And all told, 36 seats are being contested in 2014.

The map of elections looks like this:
 This map shows the political break down of the seats being contested in the United States Senate in 2014. Blue states are or were held by Democrats, and Red states are or were held by Republicans. The paler colored seats represent seats where the contest is open--i.e. has no incumbent running. 

Right now, that means 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans.
 Given the previous two posts, this map shows my sense of the trajectory of this election seat by seat. It's my reflection on the potential for "change" in the next congress. Currently, Democrats hold the majority with 53 members, and this is boosted by the participation of the 2 Independent member for a plurality of 55 to 45 over the Republicans.
In order to change the power center of the Senate to the Republicans, 6 seats currently held by Democrats need to be switched to the Republican Party. As things stand right now. I don't see that happening.

Off the top, I see one seat that is currently Republican switching to the Democrats, while two seats that are currently Democratic will flip to Republican. End of the day? Senate goes from 55 to 45 TO 54 to 46. 

Three states are too close to call, which leave open the door that Democrats will maintain their current 55 seat majority or drop to a 52 seat majority.

Many contests are still in the primary stage and so are yet to be defined and engaged. Yet, I do think that the number of women in the Senate is likely to increase by 1 to 3 seats.

Asian Carry Out 1994 - 2014

Long Day, on this past Thursday... 

Ordered Chinese carry-out from Asian Carry-Out on University Blvd in Adelphi. I have been ordering from there since 1994, but in the past few years not often at all (like maybe 2 or 3 times in an entire year--(and some years in the past decade, not at all...) However, in the 90's my ex- and I ordered from there often: monthly or twice monthly on average.

When I arrived to pay for and pick up my order (Taiwanese Rice Noodles and Mixed-Vegetables) the place was very quiet. It was around 5:45 pm. I recognized one of the men milling around the kitchen. On a few occasions in the past 20 years, he'd delivered orders to me. He was now clearly nearing 40, and I thought how I had known him when he seemed like a teenager--and how he'd weathered the years well.

Because the place was so slow, the young girl who was readying my order asked him to check me out on the cash register. While doing this he suddenly looked up at me and said, "Thirteenth Avenue."

I replied (because I didn't understand what he had said), "What?"

He smiled and said, "seven.....seventy-two."

Apprehending his thought process, I smiled and replied, "Yes! Seven-two-one...Four. Thirteenth Avenue." He not only recognized me, but remembered my address--that was delightful.

I said, "It's been 20 years."

"Twenty years?" he responded.

"Yup," I affirmed.

I've ordered food from this place (a generous estimation) 75 times in 20 years. I haven't had any contact with him in 5 years. Yet he made that connection.

And that was the most detailed "conversation" that we have had in all that time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ April 27th to May 3rd

Big Man

This afternoon I was waiting in the check out queue at Giant with some groceries, when the young man who was standing behind me's phone buzzed. He answered and assured the caller that he had gotten everything "that is essential". I glanced back past my pile to see three things: Zatarain's New Orleans style red beans and rice mix, a Kraft macaroni and cheese mix, and a six pack of Corona's. The rest of his phone conversation was brief, but was carried out in a Jamaican Patois. 

When he finished, he said in his intoxicating lilt to no one in particular. "Boy, it is a beautiful day out there. Ja has given us a wonderful day to enjoy." 

The cashier and I agreed. 

When I took my bags I turned back to him and said, "Take care, my friend" (I call lots of people 'my friend', it's just a thing I do.) 

And he replied, "'ave a blessed day, Big Man." 

Big Man.... ehhh, I am what I am!

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Series: Tourism; "Discover Something New"

This series celebrates and encourages tourism by selected some of the places to visit when on vacation in a specific city.  The inaugural issue celebrates Washington, D.C. with nods to:

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
National Arboretum
National Botanical Gardens
National Gallery of Art
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum
National Museum of Air and Space
Museum of the North American Indian
Smithsonian Museum of American History, and
Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Earth Postage Stamps--World Poets, #4 in a series

 The fourth stamp in this series does to Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova.  She joins Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and United State's poet Emily Dickinson.

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ April 20th to April 26th

Peter Pan: Opening Night!

Attended the opening night of the Ballet "Peter Pan" by Septime Webre @ The Kennedy Center on this past Thursday...

 The Kennedy Center is a wonderful place to take in a show. The Ballet I attended tonight, Peter Pan, was great fun. It was delightfully comic and also sweet. The principles were all well balanced and compelling and the ensemble danced beautifully, too. Upon leaving, I over heard one woman say to a friend, "This was SO much better than it's first staging 5 years ago." And I just thought it was great! It's the brainchild of Washington Ballet's Artistic Director Septime Webre--and we are clearly fortunate to have his creative spirit at the helm. He's created other ballets from classic tales like Alice in Wonderland. Next, he's debuting The Legend of Sleep Hollow, and after tonight, I'm planning on seeing it, too.
The Washington Ballet is an interesting group. I am not a devotee of ballet, so I don't know how it measures up with other companies; however, the thing that is striking is its diversity--a richness that stretches beyond tokenism. Members of the company hail from across the United States but also Japan, Cuba, China, Armenia, Albania, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Brazil, Belarus, Venezuela, South Korea and Ukraine. I like the intentionality of that.

It was also opening night, and I had an aisle seat in the second row. No one arrived to take the seat next to mine--that's a luxury. And the two seats in front of me were used by a sister and brother who were so adorable I nearly risked being called a pervert to get their picture, but alas, I thought better of it, and so my description will have to suffice.

They were completely unaccompanied by any adult, and as non-chalant by this as if they owned the place. I, in fact, never saw them interact with any adults. She was 9 and dressed up like Wendy with a wreath of flowers in her hair and ribbons trailing. He was 7 with long locks of blond hair that caused another patron in the front row who arrived after them to ask if you "girls" could made room for them to pass. The little girl instructed her brother how he needed to step into the aisle and then she politely, but firmly announced to the women, "He's a boy." And what a boy! A boy who was not intending to grow up!--dressed in complete and impressive Peter Pan costume right down to a brass studded brown cape and green yeoman's cap with a bright red feather. Before the performance started, she read and explained the entire synopsis from the program to him, and he listened intently. To use a phrase I do enjoy, "They were totes adorb!"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

In A Week Of Walks: A Rainy Walk!

Finnish Stamps!

Finnish Cauliflower Casseroles!


1 cup beer
3 cups cubed rye bread (about 4 slices)
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon caraway seed
3 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander


1) The beer needs to be flat for this recipe, so pour it out and let it sit for about an hour before you start cooking.  I like Dutch or Belgian ambers best.

2) Toast the bread cubes in one layer at 300 f until they're crisp. This will probably take 15 minutes.  OR you can  use store purchased croutons.  I do.

3) Saute the cauliflower and caraway seeds in the butter until barely tender.

4) Combine bread cubes, cauliflower, and grated cheese, then spread in a greased 2 quart casserole dish.

5) Blend remaining ingredients (including that beer) and pour over the cauliflower.

6) Bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes, until puffed up.  In a full casserole dish, I find this takes more 50-60 minutes.

Mertensia Virginica (Virginia Blue Bells)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zimbo Quizzes Enough!

Tired of being asked what kind of flower you are by your friend who is a Rose on Facebook?  And who cares that your friend is Gandalf in the pantheon of possible answers to the question, "Which character played by Sir Ian McKellan best represents your character?"  So I give you this, my mock response.

And frankly, OMG! I got Coxiella burnetii--it just doesn't make sense... CB? I mean, okay Yersinia pestis? Fine. I'd get that. Even Salmonella typhimurium...but CB? I think these FB quizzes are rigged somehow!